Annal: 2003 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Results of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in the year 2003.

Book:My Name Is Red

My Name Is Red: A Novel

Orhan Pamuk, Erdag M. Göknar

When the Sultan commissions a great book to celebrate his royal self and his extensive dominion, he directs Enishte Effendi to assemble a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land. Their task: to illuminate the work in the European style. But because figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam, this commission is a dangerous proposition indeed, and no one in the elite circle can know the full scope or nature of the project.

Panic erupts when one of the chosen miniaturists disappears, and the Sultan demands answers within three days. The only clue to the mystery—or crime?—lies in the half-finished illuminations themselves. Has an avenging angel discovered the blasphemous work? Or is a jealous contender for the hand of Enishte’s ravishing daughter, the incomparable Shekure, somehow to blame?

Orhan Pamuk’s My Name Is Red is at once a fantasy and a philosophical puzzle, a kaleidoscopic journey to the intersection of art, religion, love, sex, and power.

Book:The Ash Garden

The Ash Garden

Dennis Bock

A scientist stealing across the Pyrenees into Spain, then smuggled into America…

A young woman quarantined on a ship wandering the Atlantic, her family stranded in Austria…

A girl playing on a riverbank as a solitary airplane appears on the horizon…

Lives already in motion, unsettled by war, and about to change beyond reckoning—their pasts blurred and their destinies at once defined and distorted by an inconceivable event. For that man was bound for the desert of Los Alamos, the woman unexpectedly en route to a refugee camp, the girl at Ground Zero and that plane the Enola Gay. In August of 1945, in a blinding flash, Hiroshima sees the dawning of the modern age.

With these three people, Dennis Bock transforms a familiar story—the atom bomb as a means to end worldwide slaughter—into…[more]

Book:Bel Canto

Bel Canto

Ann Patchett

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening—until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different countries and continents become compatriots.

Without the demands of the world to shape their days, life on the inside becomes more beautiful than anything they had ever known before. At once riveting and impassioned, the narrative becomes a moving exploration of how people communicate when music…[more]

Book:Bitter Fruit

Bitter Fruit

Achmat Dangor

This novel provides insight into the intricacies of a changing South Africa at the end of the 1990s. Silas Ali, a former political activist, now a middle-aged civil servant working on the final Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, is shopping in the Killarney Mall in Johannesburg when he bumps into a ghost from his past-Lieutenant François du Boise, a retired security policeman. This chance encounter brings back a memory that Silas and his wife Lydia have been avoiding for 20 years. The past erupts into the present, cracking off the shell of normalcy that encloses their family life.

This story of Silas, Lydia, and their son Mikey, a university student with a curious mind and a calculating will, provides an understanding of the politics of race, the brittle surface of urban life in postapartheid South Africa, and the deeper, more disturbing historical currents that run beneath it.

Book:The Corrections

The Corrections

Jonathan Franzen

Enid Lambert is terribly, terribly anxious. Although she would never admit it to her neighbors or her three grown children, her husband, Alfred, is losing his grip on reality. Maybe it’s the medication that Alfred takes for his Parkinson’s disease, or maybe it’s his negative attitude, but he spends his days brooding in the basement and committing shadowy, unspeakable acts. More and more often, he doesn’t seem to understand a word Enid says.

Trouble is also brewing in the lives of Enid’s children. Her older son, Gary, a banker in Philadelphia, has turned cruel and materialistic and is trying to force his parents out of their old house and into a tiny apartment. The middle child, Chip, has suddenly and for no good reason quit his exciting job as a professor at D—— College and moved to New York City, where he seems to be pursuing a “transgressive” lifestyle and writing some sort of screenplay. Meanwhile the baby of the family, Denise,…[more]

Book:The Painter of Birds

The Painter of Birds: A Novel

Lídia Jorge, Margaret Jull Costa

The setting of this extraordinary novel is an old farmhouse in Portugal-a house far enough from the Atlantic not to hear the breaking waves during a storm but near enough for the walls to be corroded by the salt in the air.

With most members of her large family having left the hardship of life in this landscape of sand and stone for jobs in faraway places, a young woman struggles to piece together her past from the widely varying stories she’s been told. Left behind by a free-spirited, feckless father, a seducer with a rare gift for drawing, she is raised by her uncle who has married her mother. The only memories of her father’s two brief visits are the echoes of his footsteps on the stairs leading to her room. The only signs of him are letters from the widest reaches of the world-letters accompanied by brilliantly colored drawings of exotic birds. The daughter longs for her father and, as she grows up, she is determined to find him and uncover the truth.

Brimming with astute and exquisite characterizations, this strikingly lyrical novel evokes the atmosphere of rural Portugal in a changing world and explores the timeless themes of family, independence, and the often painful experience of emigration.

Book:The Royal Physician's Visit

The Royal Physician's Visit: A Novel

Per Olov Enquist, Tiina Nunnally

Set in Denmark in the 1760s, The Royal Physician’s Visit magnificently recasts the dramatic era of Danish history when Johann Friedrich Struensee, a German doctor from Altona, student of Enlightenment philosophers Diderot and Voltaire, and court physician to mad young King Christian, stepped through the aperture history had opened for him and became for two years the holder of absolute power in Denmark.

Dr. Struensee, tall, handsome, and charismatic, introduced hundreds of reforms, many of which would become hallmarks of the French Revolution 20 years later, including freedom of the press and improvement of the treatment of the peasantry. He also took young Queen Caroline Mathilde—unsatisfied by her unstable, childlike husband—as his mistress. He was a brilliant intellectual and brash reformer, yet Streunsee lacked the cunning and subtlety of a skilled politician and, most tragically, lacked the talent…[more]

Book:That They May Face the Rising Sun

That They May Face the Rising Sun

John McGahern

Considered by many to be the finest Irish writer now working in prose, John McGahern’s That They May Face the Rising Sun vividly brings to life a whole world and its people with insight and humour and deep sympathy.

Joe and Kate Ruttledge have come to Ireland from London in search of a different life. In passages of beauty and truth, the drama of a year in their lives and those of the memorable characters that move about them unfolds through the action, the rituals of work, religious observances and play. By the novel’s close we feel that we have been introduced, with deceptive simplicity, to a complete representation of existence—an enclosed world has been transformed into an Everywhere.

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